If you have big ideas but you never seem to finish anything, this article will give you the framework to finally get something done. Your friends will like you more. You’ll be happier and fulfilled. And you might become a millionaire – about a 4% chance, guaranteed. Let’s begin.
I’m not spitting out my latte for you
You’re sitting with your best friend having coffee. It’s been a few weeks since you’ve seen each other. You’re excited to tell him the big news but you have to suffer through a few more minutes of his boring IT department pseudo-drama. “Whaaa, Manesh said that to Kevin’s face?” You say, somewhat convincingly. Finally, there’s a pause as your friend takes a long sip from his venti, soy-decaf-and-a-bunch-of-stuff. “I’ve got this great idea I’m working on that’s gonna be HUGE!!” You yell-whisper as you make the swirling great idea motion with your hands.
But, your friend has zero reaction. He continues to chug three dollars of his six dollar latte. In your mind, he nearly chokes, slams the cup to the table and says, “No way!! Tell me what your idea is!” The problem is, he’s known you for seven years and you have a new huge idea every other month that you NEVER do anything with.
You fall into the unfortunate category of dreamers and innovators who never GSD (Get Stuff Done). And, there’s a chance that you’ve been written off by everyone in your life – except your dog. He still gets excited by your ideas – and squirrels.
I don’t want to come off as a total buzzkill. I’m not trying to dump water on your innovative, entrepreneurial flame. I’m going to introduce you to some basic laws (that I made up) that will help you capture your ideas, vet them and hopefully, take them from table-talk to execution. Read on and learn to Get Stuff Done:
2. The Law of Squirrel
The thought of capitalizing on your new idea makes you drop your old idea.
Speaking of your dog and squirrels, let’s “unpack” that one. Since everyone is unpacking concepts these days. Your dog has his entire world shifted by the sight of a squirrel. You have your entire life shifted by a new idea. This is where you need to take five deep breaths, jot your idea down and promise you won’t torture yourself or anyone else with it for five days.
After five days revisit the idea. If the initial excitement hasn’t worn off then your idea might graduate to the next step. Your 96% domesticated dog has almost NO chance of catching that squirrel. You have the same chance of taking your idea from concept to profitable reality because you get excited and distracted by the new and shiny. To counteract the Law of Squirrel, commit yourself to only ONE idea at a time.
3. The Law of Conceptual Monogamy
No matter how sexy the new idea is you must remain faithful to your beloved current idea.
Only deal with ONE idea at a time. If another hot idea comes to you – hits you up on Twitter late at night and gets you all excited, make some notes then hide them under your mattress. The new idea may seem better, sexier, more of a sure thing, easier, more likely to make you a celebrity – whatever. Don’t give in to your hot fantasies of success with the new idea. You never finish anything because your mind is an innovative playa. Only have one idea you’re working on at a time.
4. The Law of Probable Synthesis
A need encounters creativity – they get busy and birth a probable solution.
When you have a business, product or service idea you DO NOT have a “sure thing, hit, gold mine, huge idea, etc.” You have a probable solution. Let’s call it a PS. You have noticed a need in the marketplace that is going unserved and you have an innovative solution. You are very skilled at synthesizing probable solutions. The key word is probable. There’s a chance it might work. Remember the squirrel? Next, we go about the steps to determine if it is a PS or a POS.
5. The Law of Superheroes
If you’re gonna put your tights on, you better be saving the day.
Superman isn’t coming when you can’t find a parking space or when you stub your toe. Unless your product or service solution meets a big need (saves the day), it’s not a Super Hit. These 5 simple questions will help you determine how much market power your PS really has.
1. How painful is the problem you solve to your potential customer?
2. How well does your solution meet/fit the need?
3. How many other solutions are available/better?
4. How will you make your price competitive?
5. How much effort (time/money/resources) do you have vs will you need?
Answer these questions honestly. Have one of your remaining tolerant friends answer the questions. If you or your friends can’t chop the legs off of your PS, then you might be ready to do something with it.
6. The Law of Gomer Pyle
Enlist help, because it’s impossible to kick your own butt.
What would goofy Gomer have done without short-fused Sgt. Carter blowing up in his face every time he screwed up? You need a Sgt. Carter also known as an executor. You need someone who loves details, schedules, and organization. Find someone who is direct, type A, preferably with no sense of humor and impervious to charm or BS. Most idea people have copious amounts of charm to overcompensate for their flightiness and lack of discipline.
Lay out the basics of your solution on paper. Create a realistic schedule for developing your solution. Meet with your volunteer drill sergeant at their favorite uber-healthy eating spot. You might want to arrive early for some liquid courage so you don’t back out. Allow them to hold you accountable. BUT, create an escape clause so they don’t repel into your bedroom at night and torture you. Chose your accountability pain threshold. It starts with annoying texts or phone calls and goes up to the ability to hijack your social media and Amazon accounts if you slack off.
You probably know many executors but you don’t hang out with them because they don’t match your energy level. How do you find them? Go to a crowded coffee shop and yell out, “I can’t figure out this damn spreadsheet!” Look around to see who stares at you wide-eyed and salivating. You’ll have to make the first move since you’re probably the more gregarious one. Executors are also fantastic to bounce ideas off of because they’re practical and grounded. They are ideal for Law 5.
My latest GSD Adventure
I am the poster boy for the Law of Squirrel. So, I partnered with a friend and created a GSD Meetup Group. Three days after we posted the group we had 50 members. Our first meeting had 20 show up. There are lots of bright, creative people who just lack followthrough. The 20 split up into groups of 5 who are committed to holding each other accountable – at varying pain thresholds. As one of the founders of the group, I’m being forced to be more disciplined about consistently working on my PS. I don’t want to look bad in front of the whole group!
The final law is the most important law. It is actually the first law of GSD but I saved it for last. If you don’t remember anything else…
1. The Law of Popeye
I am what I am, and that’s all that I am.
There’s a good chance you will always struggle to finish things. Beautiful, creative minds are happiest when they are creating, not when they are immersed in details and execution. Accept the struggle. Don’t feel like a failure because you have a hard time bringing concepts to reality. Take action. Dive into an accountability partnership. But, know that being a creative innovator comes with a few weaknesses.
I go through days feeling like I’m failing because I have so many ideas and get too distracted to make progress. I had to start a group. Now, I’m making progress. I have some executors in my life and I love it! Hopefully, these “Laws” resonate with you. I’d love to hear about your progress. I wish you the best in your creative journey.